The government aims at curbing malnutrition and nutritional needs of people in India using food fortification strategy.Reuters

The control of micronutrient deficiencies is an essential part of the overarching effort to fight hunger and malnutrition in the country, the Narendra Modi government has said. A two-day National Summit on Fortification of Food was also organised in New Delhi with the aim of addressing the issue of micronutrient malnutrition.

Conducted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the summit witnessed the presence of Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan along with Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Anupriya Patel.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines food fortification as "the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food irrespective of whether the nutrients were originally in the food before processing or not, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health,"

According to Anupriya Patel, the only way to fulfil the nutritional needs of the masses which includes underprivileged and poor people along with young children and pregnant women is by using the strategy of food fortification.

"Fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns, habits nor individual compliance. It is socio-culturally acceptable and does not alter the characteristics of the food," Anupriya Patel was quoted as saying by GroundReport.

"It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time. It is safe and cost effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms," she added.

The minister further highlighted the need of food fortification saying that it will aid the prevailing programmes for nutrition enhancement in the country as the collective approach to curb micronutrient deficiencies would be more effective.

This event witnessed the launching of the logo of food fortification as well as setting of its standards.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), was also present at the event. She said that lack of macro and micronutrients in food causes diseases like anaemia and TB. She also spoke about ICMR's plan to carry out a health and nutrition survey and get the data about the nutritional benefits of food consumed by the people in the country.

Dr Swaminathan also pointed towards raising awareness regarding the importance of balanced diet.